Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ysaÿe Quartet disbands

France’s Ysaÿe Quartet, remembered locally for performances at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2004 and 2011, has disbanded after a career of 30 years, Le Figaro of Paris reports (in French):

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger (1919-2014)

Pete Seeger, father of the American folk revival, author or co-author of some of its iconic songs – “If I Had a Hammer,” “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season),” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” – and popularizer of the civil-rights anthem “We Shall Overcome,” has died at 94.

An obituary by Jon Pareles for The New York Times:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Virginia Symphony 2014-15

Pianist Emanuel Ax will open the 2014-15 season of the Virginia Symphony, joining Music Director JoAnn Falletta and the Hampton Roads-based orchestra in works of Mozart and Richard Strauss in three concerts in September.

Other guests of the orchestra in the coming season will be violinist-conductor Cho-Liang Lin (playing Mozart), violinists Alexandre de Costa (Tchaikovsky) and Tamas Kocsis (Bruch), cellist Amit Peled (Dvořák), pianists Prisca Benoit (Beethoven) and Sara Davis Buechner (Chopin), and vocal soloists to be announced, with the Virginia Symphony Chorus, in Handel’s “Messiah” and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Major orchestral repertory next season includes Richard Strauss’ “Don Juan,” Ravel’s “La Valse,” Mahler’s First Symphony, Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony, Copland’s Third Symphony, Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony, Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony (No. 3), Beethoven’s First Symphony, Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, and the Prelude and “Liebestod” (“Love-Death”) from Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde.”

For information on ticket subscription packages, call the Virginia Symphony box office at (757) 892-6366, or visit

The Virginia Symphony’s 2014-15 program lineup:

at Ferguson Arts Center, Christopher Newport University, Newport News; Chrysler Hall, Norfolk; Sandler Arts Center, Virginia Beach

Sept. 19 (Newport News), Sept. 20 (Norfolk), Sept. 21 (Virginia Beach) – JoAnn Falletta conducting. Richard Strauss: “Don Juan;” Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 14; Richard Strauss: Burleske for piano and orchestra (Emanuel Ax, piano); Ravel: “La Valse.”

Oct. 17 (Newport News), Oct. 18 (Norfolk), Oct. 19 (Virginia Beach) – Cho-Liang Lin conducting. Elgar: Serenade for strings; Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 2 (Cho-Liang Lin, violin); Mozart: Symphony No. 40.

Nov. 7 (Newport News), Nov. 8 (Norfolk), Nov. 9 (Virginia Beach) – JoAnn Falletta conducting. Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 (Prisca Benoit, piano); Mahler: Symphony No. 1.

Dec. 5 (Newport News), Dec. 6 (location TBA) – Benjamin Rous conducting. Handel: “Messiah” (soloists TBA, Virginia Symphony Chorus).

Jan. 30 (Newport News), Feb. 1 (Norfolk), Feb. 2 (Virginia Beach) – JoAnn Falletta conducting. Roussel: “Bacchus et Ariane” Suite No. 2; Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 (“Choral”) (soloists TBA, Virginia Symphony Chorus).

Feb. 13 (Newport News), Feb. 14 (Norfolk), Feb. 15 (Virginia Beach) – JoAnn Falletta conducting. Wagner: Prelude and “Liebestod” from “Tristan und Isolde;” Tchaikovsky: “Romeo and Juliet” Fantasy-Overture; Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2.

Feb. 27 (Newport News), Feb. 28 (Norfolk), March 1 (Virginia Beach) – JoAnn Falletta conducting. Libby Larsen: “On the Floor;” Dvořák: Cello Concerto (Amit Peled, cello); Copland: Symphony No. 3.

March 20 (Newport News), March 21 (Norfolk), March 22 (Virginia Beach) – Benjamin Rous conducting. Rimsky-Korsakov: “Russian Easter” Overture; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9; Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto (Alexandre de Costa, violin).

at Crosswalk Community Church, Williamsburg; Regent University Theater, Virginia Beach; Phi Beta Kappa Hall, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg

Nov. 13 (Crosswalk, Williamsburg), Nov. 15 (Virginia Beach) – JoAnn Falletta conducting. Milhaud: “Le boeuf sur le toit” (“The Bull on the Roof”); Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 (Sara Davis Buechner, piano); Beethoven: Symphony No. 1.

Dec. 3 (Virginia Beach), Dec. 4 (Crosswalk, Williamsburg) – Benjamin Rous conducting. Handel: “Messiah” (soloists TBA, Virginia Symphony Chorus).

Jan. 22 (Crosswalk, Williamsburg), Jan. 24 (Virginia Beach) – JoAnn Falletta conducting. Hamilton Harty: “In Ireland;” Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 (Tamas Kocsis, violin); Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3 (“Scottish”).

March 12 (Phi Beta Kappa, Williamsburg), March 14 (Virginia Beach) – JoAnn Falletta conducting. J.S. Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 3; Haydn: Sinfonia concertante (Vahn Armstrong, violin; Michael Daniels, cello; Sherie Aguirre, oboe; Laura Leisring, bassoon); Brahms: “Nänie,” “Schicksalslied” (Virginia Symphony Chorus).

at Ferguson Arts Center, Christopher Newport University, Newport News; Chrysler Hall, Norfolk; Sandler Arts Center, Virginia Beach

Oct. 3 (Newport News), Oct. 4 (Norfolk) – Benjamin Rous conducting. “A Night in Motown” (Spectrum, guest artists).

Dec. 19 (Virginia Beach), Dec. 20 (Norfolk) – Robert Shoup conducting. Holiday Pops (guest soloists TBA, Virginia Symphony Chorus).

Feb. 6 (Newport News), Feb. 7 (Norfolk) – Benjamin Rous conducting. “At the Movies with John Williams.”

March 6 (Newport News), March 7 (Norfolk) – Benjamin Rous conducting. “The Music of Benny Goodman” (Sal Andolina, clarinet).

March 27 (Newport News), March 28 (Norfolk) – Benjamin Rous conducting. “Wicked Divas in Concert” (guest vocalists TBA).

at Sandler Arts Center, Virginia Beach

Oct. 26 – Benjamin Rous conducting. “Halloween Spooktacular.”

Nov. 30 – Benjamin Rous conducting. “Jingle Bell Jam.”

Jan. 25 – Benjamin Rous conducting. Poulenc: “Babar the Elephant” (narrator TBA).

March 15 – Benjamin Rous conducting. “The Animated Orchestra” (Gregory Smith, narrator).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Mozart's 258th in Carytown

Classical Revolution RVA, the performance cooperative organized by Richmond Symphony violinist Ellen Cockerham, will present a Mozart festival on Sunday, Jan. 26 (the composer’s 258th birthday) in the Carytown shopping district of Richmond.

Nine events are scheduled, beginning at 11 a.m., at various stores and restaurants along Cary Street. All are open free of charge except a screening of “Amadeus” at the Byrd Theatre. Tickets for the film are $4 in advance at AlterNatives, 3320 W. Cary St., or $5 at the door.

Here’s the festival schedule:

11 a.m.-noon (AlterNatives, 3320 W. Cary St.) Quartet performance. Program TBA. Coffee and pastries served.

Noon-1 p.m. (Carytown Bistro, 3200 W. Cary St.) Clarinet Quintet, Viola Quintet in G minor, flute quartet TBA.

Noon-2 p.m. (Can Can Brasserie, 3120 W. Cary St.) “Eine kleine Brunch Musik,” chamber music, art-songs, piano sonatas TBA.

2-3 p.m. (Plan 9 Records, 3017 W. Cary St.) “Operatic Incarnations,” vocal duos, trios, ensembles TBA.

2-3:30 p.m. (Cartwheels & Coffee, 2820 W. Cary St.) “Story Time: ‘The Magic Flute’,” story narrated by Mark Mobley, with arias sung by members of Capitol Opera Richmond.

3-4 p.m. (Chop Suey Books, 2913 W. Cary St.) “Wolfgang 101,” conductor Daniel Myssyk discusses Mozart.

4-5:30 p.m. (Babes of Carytown, 3166 W. Cary St.) Symphonies Nos. 31 (“Paris”), 38 (“Prague”) and 41 (“Jupiter”), conducted by Daniel Myssyk and Erin R. Freeman.

6-7 p.m. (Can Can Brasserie, 3120 W. Cary St.) “Mozart’s Greatest Hits,” Capitol Opera Richmond members perform arias from “The Marriage of Figaro,” “Cosí fan tutte,” “Don Giovanni,” other works, with orchestral accompaniment.

7:30 p.m. (Byrd Theatre, 2908 W. Cary St.) “Amadeus.” Party after film at Portrait House, 2907 W. Cary St.


* * *
ADDENDUM (Jan. 26): How’d it go? Great fun, to judge from the symphonies set at Babe’s. The program turned out to be movements from the “Paris” (No. 31), “Haffner” (No. 35), “Prague” (No. 38), “Jupiter” (No. 41) and the nicknameless Nos. 34 and 40, plus the overtures to “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Don Giovanni,” played by an orchestra of professionals and students.

The Richmond Symphony’s Erin R. Freeman conducted the first half in a rather mellow vein, emphasizing the lyrical and moody. In the second half, Virginia Commonwealth University-based Daniel Myssyk obtained more rhythmically pointed and dynamic playing. He also tried to reprise some of a lecture he had just given up the street, which proved to be a mistake in a crowded bar.

Balances were dicey – several hundred of us now know the trumpet parts of the “Paris” and “Jupiter” symphonies in detail – and the performances rough-and-ready. The musicians were sight-reading the scores, Freeman revealed.

Considering that they were, and that Mozart is music without much margin for inaudible error, the results were never less than listenable, and at times were remarkably polished.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Claudio Abbado (1933-2014)

Claudio Abbado, the esteemed Italian conductor, has died at 80. A survivor of stomach cancer in the late 1990s, he recently had withdrawn from engagements because of poor health.

The former music director of La Scala, the Vienna State Opera, the London Symphony and Berlin Philharmonic, Abbado in his last years most prominently worked at the Lucerne Festival and with chamber orchestras.

“The loss of Abbado is irreparable,” writes Norman Lebrecht, the English chronicler of conductors.

The New York Times’ obituary, by Allan Kozinn:

A 2009 interview with Abbado by Tom Service, from The Guardian:

Just a few days ago, Service reported that Orchestra Mozart, one of the ensembles Abbado helped develop in the Lucerne years, has suspended operations in the conductor’s absence:

ADDENDUM: The Berlin Philharmonic, which Abbado led from 1990 to 2002, has made available at no charge 17 videos of the conductor’s performances with the orchestra:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Virginia Opera 2014-15

Virginia Opera will present Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” as its opening production next season. The 2014-15 lineup also features the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta “H.M.S. Pinafore,” Richard Strauss’ “Salome” and Verdi’s “La Traviata.”

Dates have been set for all but “Traviata” in the spring. All four productions will be staged at Norfolk’s Harrison Opera House, the Carpenter Theatre of Richmond CenterStage and the Center for the Arts at George Mason University in Fairfax. “Pinafore” and “Traviata” also will be presented at the Sandler Arts Center in Virginia Beach.

Dates, and casting to date, for Virginia Opera’s coming season:

* “Sweeney Todd,” led by Adam Turner, the company’s resident conductor, Sept. 26, 28 and 30 in Norfolk; Oct. 3 and 5 in Richmond; Oct. 11 and 12 in Fairfax.

* “H.M.S. Pinafore,” directed by Nicola Bowie, Nov. 7, 9 and 11 in Norfolk; Nov. 14 and 15 in Virginia Beach; Nov. 21 and 23 in Richmond; Dec. 5 and 6 in Fairfax.

* “Salome,” starring Kelly Cae Hogan in the title role, Jan. 30, Feb. 1 and 3 in Norfolk; Feb. 6 and 8 in Richmond; Feb. 14 and 15 in Fairfax.

* “La Traviata,” starring Elizabeth Caballero as Violetta and directed by Lillian Groag, spring dates to be announced in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Richmond and Fairfax.

For information on purchasing ticket subscriptions, call the box office at (866) 673-7282 or visit

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Letter V Classical Radio this week

Jan. 16
1-3 p.m. ET
1800-2000 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Mozart: Symphony No. 23 in D major, K. 181
Geneva Chamber Orchestra/David Greilsammer (Sony Classical)

Bohuslav Martinů: Symphony No. 3
Czech Philharmonic/Vaclav Neumann (Supraphon)

Peter Schickele: Piano Quintet No. 1
Peter Schickele, piano
Audubon Quartet (Centaur)

Debussy: “Danses sacrée et profane”
Nancy Allen, harp
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz (EMI Classics)

Past Masters:
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A major
Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig/Franz Konwitschny (Berlin Classics)
(recorded 1959)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Minnesota Orchestra lockout ends

One of the longest work stoppages in recent classical-music history ends as musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra ratify a new three-year contract with an initial 15 percent wage cut (partially made back in later years) and other concessions.

The Minnesota Orchestral Association, the orchestra’s parent entity, locked out the musicians in October 2012 after they refused to accept a contract with even deeper cuts to their income.

The New York Times’ Michael Cooper reports:

ADDENDUM: Cooper’s follow-up report for the Times includes the tidbit that Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, one of the orchestra’s French horn players, wife of former Richmond Symphony Music Director Mark Russell Smith, spent some of her lockout time playing with the Cleveland Orchestra, and a month working as a dive instructor in Mexico:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Review: Richmond Symphony

Steven Smith conducting
with Neal Cary, cello
and Molly Sharp, viola
Jan. 11, Richmond CenterStage

The tone poem, the romantic era’s medium of choice for literary, atmospheric and emotional allusion, reached its pinnacle in the works of Richard Strauss. Of Strauss’ various tone poems, none is more literally tied to a literary work than “Don Quixote,” the composer’s vivid evocation of Cervantes’ classic novel.

Steven Smith led the Richmond Symphony in a colorful, richly detailed account of “Don Quixote,” whose putative instrumental stars – Neal Cary, the orchestra’s principal cellist, portraying the Don; and Molly Sharp, the symphony’s principal violist, as Sancho Panza – wound up sharing the spotlight with a number of other soloists and orchestral sections.

Cary’s playing was warm and characterful, at least when I could hear it. From my front-center-balcony vantage, the solo cello was barely audible whenever a significant part of the orchestra accompanied it. Placement of the cellist, just out from under the proscenium arch of the Carpenter Theatre, may account for the instrument’s weak projection – other soloists, even pianists, have had audibility problems when placed too far forward on the stage.

A patron seated further back in the balcony section heard more of the cello, in better balance with other instruments.

Cary’s rather oratorical interpretive stance, often elaborated upon with violin flourishes from concertmaster Daisuke Yamamoto, contrasted nicely with the more conversational approach of violist Sharp and her various instrumental collaborators. Soloists and choirs of the orchestra, notably principal clarinetist Ralph Skiano and the symphony’s horn section (enlarged to six for this score), reveled in their interjections and sound effects.

Conductor Smith took audible care in keeping a large orchestra’s many voices in reasonably good balance. Enhanced brass sections and a generously deployed array of percussion instruments did not overwhelm, even at their loudest, while strings and woodwinds sounded with richness and unanimity. Three bassoons added numerous degrees of shading to Strauss’ largely primary colored tonal palette.

Preceding the Strauss were three orchestral excerpts from Wagner’s “Lohengrin” and “Foils for Orchestra (Hommage à Saint George)” by George Walker.

Smith drew true Wagnerian sonority, in both color and heft, from the orchestra in the “Lohengrin” selections, notably in the Act 1 Prelude.

The conductor ably directed the thrusts and parries of orchestral sections in “Foils,” a 2006 opus in which Walker, a contemporary African-American composer, evokes both the musical and martial artistry of the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, born to a French father and Afro-Caribbean mother, who became a leading violinist, composer and fencing master in late 18th-century France.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Letter V Classical Radio this week

Jan. 9
1-3 p.m. ET
1800-2000 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

William Boyce: Symphony No. 8 in D minor
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Neville Marriner (Capriccio)

Ravel: Sonata for violin and piano
Joshua Bell, violin; Jeremy Denk, piano (Sony Classical)

Beethoven: Sonata in C major, Op. 53 (“Waldstein”)
Ronald Brautigam, fortepiano (BIS)

Jan Dismas Zelenka: Capriccio II in G major
Heinz Holliger & Hans Elhorst, oboes; Barry Tuckwell & Robert Rouch, horns; Manfred Sax, bassoon
Camerata Bern/Alexander van Wijnkoop (DG Archiv)

Past Masters:
Richard Strauss: “Death and Transfiguration”
Philadelphia Orchestra/Leopold Stokowski (RCA Victor)
(recorded 1934)

Shostakovich-Barshai: Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a
Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Rudolf Barshai (Decca)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Review: Chamber Music Society

Jan. 5, Bon Air Presbyterian Church

James Wilson, the cellist and artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia, has built up a lot of trust with the local audience. Proof of that came in the first of the society’s winter concerts, a program in which the only familiar work was a Haydn symphony – and that in a seldom-heard heard chamber arrangement.

Aside from the Haydn “Clock” Symphony (No. 101) in the reduction for piano, flute and string quartet by Johann Peter Salomon, the violinist-impresario who engaged the composer for his two celebrated visits to Britain in the 1790s (resulting in Haydn’s 12 “London” symphonies, among other works), and the “Autumn” section of Tchaikovsky’s “The Seasons” in a clarinet-quintet arrangement by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, the rest of this program on the theme of time was given over to decidedly non-household name composers.

Chances are pretty good that no one in the audience had heard of, let alone heard music by, the contemporary Lithuanian composer Onute Narbutaite, the contemporary American Roger Zare or Carl Frühling, an Austrian active in the late-19th and early 20th centuries, before attending this concert.

And yet they came, and responded to, this parade of unknowns. They bet $25 or $30 that Wilson wouldn’t let them down. And he didn’t. How did he pull this off? Partly by knowing what his listeners could absorb, and partly by recruiting musicians who could “sell” these obscurities with compelling performances.

Remarkably, this program was put together on a tight rehearsal schedule, compacted even more than usual by travel disruptions caused by the recent winter storms.

One got little sense of insufficient preparation – other than, perhaps, a bit of extra frisson and tense immediacy – in performances of Narbutaite’s “Winter Serenade” and Zare’s “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” both requiring a good deal of unconventional instrumental technique, a great deal of concentrated listening and adjustment of balances among the musicians and, in the Narbutaite, a keen sense of the role that silence plays in music.

Three Richmond Symphony members, clarinetist Jared Davis, flutist Mary Boodell and violinist Daisuke Yamamoto (the orchestra’s concertmaster), joined Wilson and three veterans of past editions of the festival, violinist Jesse Mills, violist Max Mandel and pianist Rieko Aizawa.

Davis played with warmth, refined tone and strong projection of his instrument’s lower register in Takemitsu’s transformation of the Tchaikovsky movement into a lovely little tone poem, and was an appropriately Brahmsian voice in the Frühling trio.

Boodell’s flute shone among the strings and keyboard in Salomon’s Haydn arrangement, and enhanced the urgency of Zare’s piece, a sonic evocation of Albert Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity (the one about fast-moving objects).

Yamamoto blended seamlessly with Wilson and the visiting fiddlers, and was a chracterful and complementary voice in several “conversations” with violinist Mills.

The Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia’s winter concert series concludes with “The End of Time,” a program of Liszt, Glass and Messiaen, at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 7 at Bon Air Presbyterian Church, 9201 W. Huguenot Road. Tickets: $30. Details: (804) 519-2098;

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Review: Eckhart Ensemble

Victor Yampolsky conducting
with Karen Johnson, violin
& Gustav Highstein, oboe
Jan. 4, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

The Eckhart Ensemble, a chamber group and orchestra founded last year, gave its second round of concerts over the weekend, bringing in Victor Yampolsky, the violinist-turned-conductor based at Northwestern University in Chicago, to lead a program of Bach and Mozart.

The ensemble’s performance at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church suffered intermittently from the acoustics of a long, narrow, high-ceilinged sanctuary, which visually and audially distanced the two dozen musicians from their audience. Bass sound, especially, was recessed and rather muddled in the densely contrapuntal voicings of Bach’s “Brandenburg” Concerto No. 3 and Concerto for violin and oboe, BWV 1060.

The sonic focus was sharper in a second half of Mozart’s Symphony No. 33 in B flat major, K. 319, and the andantino movement from the “Posthorn” Serenade.

Karen Johnson, the former concertmaster of the Richmond Symphony, now a member of the U.S. Marine Band (“the President’s Own”) and other Washington area ensembles, and Gustav Highstein, principal oboist of the Richmond Symphony, paced a lively and stylish reading of the Bach concerto, although the oboe projected better than the solo violin in this space.

Johnson, who also served as concertmaster of the chamber orchestra, found a better solo showcase in a chaste, soulful adagio movement, originally from the Violin Sonata in E minor, BWV 1023, interpolated into the “Brandenburg” concerto as a slow movement.

Yampolsky, like many Russian-born musicians, seems inclined to emphasize expressive opportunities whenever and wherever they present themselves in 18th-century music.

Mozart offered more such opportunities, especially the “Posthorn” andantino, which the conductor characterized as a “romantic” interlude unexpectedly placed in the middle of an outdoorsy, celebratory serenade. Played with rich lyricism (and lengthened by inclusion of its repeats), the movement came across almost as a bit of proto-romantic tone poetry.

The conductor’s view of the symphony, as “pure champagne” in musical form, translated to a brisk, sharply accented, altogether exuberant reading.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Chorus open to new members

The Central Virginia Masterworks Chorale will hold three open rehearsals, 7-9:15 p.m. Jan. 13, 20 and 27, at Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church, 201 Henry St. in Ashland.

The chorale, directed by David Sinden, is seeking new members to sing in its spring program of Bach, Purcell, Britten and other music, with performances on May 4 and 10.

Membership in the chorus is open without audition, although choral singing experience is encouraged.

For more information, call (804) 545-5406 or visit

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

On the radio

Last fall I began producing Letter V Classical Radio for WDCE-FM at the University of Richmond. I’ve waited to promote it here until I got to a certain level of comfort and competence. (It had been 40 years since I last did live radio.)

The show regularly airs on Thursdays from 1-3 p.m. (Eastern US time), 1800-2000 (UTC/GMT). When school is not in session and the student staff is away, I may start earlier and/or stay on longer.

If you live in the near west end of Richmond – roughly, within a 10-mile radius of the university – you can pick up the station at 90.1 FM. For those at more distant points, its broadcasts stream at

Each program includes, at the end of the first hour, a roundup of the coming week’s live classical events in Richmond, elsewhere in Virginia and the Washington area from the Letter V calendar, referring listeners back to this site for details.

Beginning this week, I’ll post the list of recordings being played, including artists and labels. Given the comings and goings of record-industry inventories, some of the discs may be out of print, or reissued under a different imprint from the one I’m using. This is true especially of “Past Masters,” vintage recordings that will be featured in each program.

About those vintage discs: If you’re averse to 78-era surface noise, fear not. I use the best available remasterings of the oldies, and never – well, hardly ever – play pre-1925 acoustical recordings.

Letter V Classical Radio this week:

Jan. 2
1-3 p.m. ET
1800-2000 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

J.S. Bach: Concerto in A minor, BWV 593 (after Vivaldi)
George Ritchie, organ (Raven)

Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Violin Concerto in A major, Op. 5, No. 2
Rachel Barton Pine, violin
Encore Chamber Orchestra/Daniel Hege (Cedille)

Past Masters:
Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 3 in E flat major, K. 447
Barry Tuckwell, French horn
London Symphony/Peter Maag (Decca)
(recorded 1959)

Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
Stephen Kovacevich, piano
BBC Symphony/Colin Davis (Philips)

Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85
Truls Mørk, cello
City of Birmingham Symphony/Simon Rattle (Virgin Classics)

January calendar

Classical performances in and around Richmond, with selected events elsewhere in Virginia and the Washington area. Program information, provided by presenters, is updated as details become available. Adult single-ticket prices are listed; senior, student/youth, group and other discounts may be offered.

WEATHER ADVISORY (Jan. 21): A winter storm is bearing down on the Mid-Atlantic region, with significant snow accumulation expected in central, western and northern Virginia and the Washington area. The storm will be followed by four to five days of exceptionally cold weather. Events are likely to be canceled or postponed in affected areas. Call ahead before venturing out.


* In and around Richmond: Karen Johnson, former concertmaster of the Richmond Symphony, and Gustav Highstein, the orchestra’s principal oboist, join Victor Yampolsky and the Eckhart Ensemble in a program of Bach and Mozart, Jan. 4 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. . . . The Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia, led by cellist James Wilson, explores time in two programs, featuring music of Haydn, Messiaen, Tchaikovsky, Philip Glass and others, Jan. 5 and 7 at Bon Air Presbyterian Church. . . . . The ensemble Alkemie brings medieval and Renaissance music to Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on Jan. 10. . . . The Richmond Symphony, Steven Smith conducting, performs Richard Strauss’ “Don Quixote” with two symphony principals, cellist Neal Cary and violist Molly Sharp, Jan. 11 at Richmond CenterStage. . . . Erin R. Freeman conducts a Richmond Symphony LolliPops program on Gershwin’s “An American in Paris,” Jan. 25 at Richmond CenterStage.

* Noteworthy elsewhere: Two conductors explain Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony before leading performances of it: Marin Alsop with the Baltimore Symphony, Jan. 10 at Strathmore in the Maryland suburbs of DC, and Christoph Eschenbach with the National Symphony (and with explanatory multimedia), Jan. 24 at Washington’s Kennedy Center. . . . Pianist David Greilsammer contrasts sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti and John Cage (!), Jan. 11 at the Kennedy Center. . . . Pinchas Zukerman leads Britain’s Royal Philharmonic in a program of Bach, Schoenberg and Brahms, Jan. 12 at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts in Fairfax. . . . Stephen Hough plays Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Mark Elder and the National Symphony, Jan. 16-18 at the Kennedy Center. . . . Pianist Tracy Cowden and soprano Ariana Wyatt join David Stewart Wiley and members of the Roanoke Symphony in a Green Room musicale of Martinů, Purcell, Bernstein, Rorem, Bolcom and more, Jan. 16-17 at the symphony’s intimate venue in downtown Roanoke. . . . Opera Lafayette reprises Philidor’s “Les Femmes Vengées” (sometimes known as the “French Cosí”), Jan. 16-17 at the Kennedy Center (waiting list for Jan. 17). . . . Cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Inon Barnaton play Debussy, Schubert, Rachmaninoff and more, Jan. 19 at the Kennedy Center (waiting list for tickets). . . . The Takács Quartet brings its double-header of the complete Bartók quartets to the Kennedy Center on Jan. 21-22. . . . The piano duo of Christina and Michelle Naughton join JoAnn Falletta and the Virginia Symphony in an all-French program, Jan. 24-26 at venues in Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. . . . Pianist Denis Matsuev plays Haydn, Schumann, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, Jan. 25 at Strathmore. . . . Baritone Matthias Goerne sings Schubert’s song cycle “Die schöne Müllerin,” with Christoph Eschenbach accompanying on piano, Jan. 27 at the Kennedy Center. . . . Goerne and other voices join Eschenbach and the National Symphony in Hindemith’s rarely performed “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” and Joshua Bell plays the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, Jan. 30-Feb. 1 at the Kennedy Center.

Jan. 2 (8 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Andrew Grams conducting
Lauren Snouffer, soprano
Viennese New Year program
Johann Strauss II: waltzes, operetta arias TBA
(877) 276-1444 (Baltimore Symphony box office)

Jan. 4 (8 p.m.)
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Grove Avenue at Three Chopt Road, Richmond
Eckhart Ensemble
Victor Yampolsky conducting
J.S. Bach: “Brandenburg” Concerto No. 3
J.S. Bach: Concerto for violin and oboe
Karen Johnson, violin
Gustav Highstein, oboe
Mozart: Symphony No. 33
(804) 288-2867

Jan. 4 (8 p.m.)
Jan. 5 (3 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
National Philharmonic
Piotr Gajewski conducting
Dvořák: Serenade for strings
Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 5 (“Turkish”)
Nurit Bar-Josef, violin
Mozart: Symphony No. 29
(301) 581-5100

Jan. 5 (4 p.m.)
Bon Air Presbyterian Church, 9201 W. Huguenot Road, Richmond
Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia:
Jesse Mills & Daisuke Yamamoto, violins
Max Mandel, viola
James Wilson, cello
Mary Boodell, flute
Jared Davis, clarinet
Rieko Aizawa, piano
Haydn-Salomon: Symphony No. 101 (“Clock”)
Carl Fruehling: Clarinet Trio
Tchaikovsky-Takemitsu: “Autumn Song” from “The Seasons”
Onatue Narbutaite: “Winter Serenade”
Roger Zare: “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”
(804) 519-2098

Jan. 5 (6:30 p.m.)
West Building, West Garden Court, National Gallery of Art, Sixth Street at Constitution Avenue NW, Washington
National Gallery Orchestra
Vladimir Lande conducting
Glinka: “Ruslan and Ludmilla” Overture
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2
Xiayin Wang, piano
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5
free (limited seating)
(202) 737-4215

Jan. 7 (7:30 p.m.)
Bon Air Presbyterian Church, 9201 W. Huguenot Road, Richmond
Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia:
Jesse Mills & Daisuke Yamamoto, violins
Max Mandel, viola
James Wilson, cello
Jared Davis, clarinet
Rieko Aizawa, piano
“The End of Time”
Liszt: “Sposalisio”
Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 5
Messiaen: “Quartet for the End of Time”
(804) 519-2098

Jan. 8 (7:30 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Vocal Arts DC:
Ana María Martínez, soprano
Thomas Jaber, piano
program TBA
(800) 444-1324

Jan. 10 (7:30 p.m.)
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Forest Hill Avenue at 43rd Street, Richmond
medieval and Renaissance music TBA
donation requested
(804) 233-2278

Jan. 10 (8:15 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop conducting and speaking
“Off the Cuff: Dvořák’s ‘New World’ Symphony”
discussion and performance
(877) 276-1444 (Baltimore Symphony box office)

Jan. 11 (2 p.m.)
Gellman Room, Richmond Public Library, First and Franklin streets
Douglas-Jayd Burn, piano
Rebeka Butler, violin
“Clavier â cordes”
works by Beethoven, Beach, Prokofiev
(804) 646-7223

Jan. 11 (8 p.m.)
Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage, Sixth and Grace streets
Richmond Symphony
Steven Smith conducting
Wagner: “Lohengrin” orchestral excerpts
George Walker: “Foils for Orchestra (Homage à Saint-Georges)”
Richard Strauss: “Don Quixote”
Neal Cary, cello
Molly Sharp, viola
(800) 514-3849 (ETIX)

Jan. 11 (2 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
David Greilsammer, piano
sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti, John Cage
(202) 985-9727 (Washington Performing Arts Society)

Jan. 12 (8 p.m.)
Center for the Arts, George Mason University, Fairfax
Royal Philharmonic
Pinchas Zukerman conducting
J.S. Bach: Violin Concerto No. 1
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
Schoenberg: “Transfigured Night”
Brahms: Double Concerto in A minor
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
Amanda Forsyth, cello
(888) 945-2468 (

Jan. 12 (6:30 p.m.)
East Building Auditorium, National Gallery of Art, Sixth Street at Constitution Avenue NW, Washington
National Gallery Orchestra
Andrew Simpson conducting
Buster Keaton’s “The General”
film screened with live accompaniment
(202) 737-4215

Jan. 16 (6 p.m.)
Jan. 17 (6 p.m.)
The Green Room, 128 E. Campbell Ave., Roanoke
Roanoke Symphony Virtuosi strings and winds
David Stewart Wiley, conductor & host
Tracy Cowden, piano
Ariana Wyatt, soprano
“Musical Aperitif”
works by Martinů, Purcell, Bernstein, Rorem, Bolcom, Musto, Hagen
(540) 343-9127

Jan. 16 (7 p.m.)
Jan. 17 (8 p.m.)
Jan. 18 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra
Mark Elder conducting
Elgar: “In the South”
Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1
Stephen Hough, piano
Richard Strauss: “Don Quixote”
David Hardy, cello
Daniel Foster, viola
(800) 444-1324

Jan. 16 (8 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Nicholas McGegan conducting
Haydn: Symphony No. 30 (“Alleluia”)
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 27
Jeremy Denk, piano
Mozart: Bassoon Concerto
Fei Xie, bassoon
Beethoven: Symphony No. 8
(877) 276-1444 (Baltimore Symphony box office)

Jan. 17 (7:30 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Opera Lafayette
Ryan Brown conducting
Philidor: “Les Femmes Vengées”
Pascale Beaudin (Fleurdelise/Madame La Président)
Blandine Staskiewicz (Dorabelle/Madame Lek)
Alex Dobson (Guillaume/Monsieur Lek)
Antonio Figueroa (Fernand/Le Président)
Claire Debono (Delphine/Madame Riss)
Jeffrey Thompson (peintre/Monsieur Riss)
Nick Olcott, stage director
in French, English captions
$60-$90 (waiting list)
open rehearsal at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16 ($30-$45)
(800) 444-1324

Jan. 18 (8 p.m.)
Jan. 19 (2 p.m.)
Center for the Arts, George Mason University, Fairfax
Fairfax Symphony Orchestra
Christopher Zimmerman conducting
Elgar: Serenade for strings
Britten: Serenade for tenor, horn and strings
William Hite, tenor
Eric Moore, horn
Shostakovich-Barshai: Chamber Symphony in C minor, Op. 110a
Britten: “Simple” Symphony
(888) 945-2468 (

Jan. 18 (8 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 53091 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
National Philharmonic
Victoria Gau conducting
Mozart: Divertimento in D major, K. 136
J.S. Bach: Clavier Concerto No. 1
Gabriela Martinez, piano
Schubert: Mass No. 2 in G major
Julie Keim, soprano
Robert Petillo, tenor
Kerry Wilkerson, bass
(301) 581-5100

Jan. 19 (7 p.m.)
Calvary Revival Church, 5833 Poplar Hall Drive, Norfolk
Virginia Symphony
conductor TBA
“Songs for a Dreamer: a Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
program TBA
(757) 213-1403

Jan. 19 (7:30 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Alisa Weilerstein, cello
Inon Barnaton, piano
Debussy: Sonata for cello and piano
Schubert: Fantasia in C major, D. 934
Auerbach: preludes for cello and piano, Op. 47 (excerpts) (after Shostakovich: 24 preludes, Op. 34)
Rachmaninoff: Sonata in G minor, Op. 19
$60 (waiting list)
(202) 785-9727 (Washington Performing Arts Society)

Jan. 21 (7:30 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Takács Quartet
Bartók: quartets Nos. 1, 3, 5
(800) 444-1324

Jan. 22 (7:30 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Takács Quartet
Bartók: quartets Nos. 2, 4, 6
(800) 444-1324

Jan. 23 (7 p.m.)
Jan. 25 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra
Christoph Eschenbach conducting
Mozart: Symphony No. 35 (“Haffner”)
Avner Dorman: “Frozen in Time”
Martin Grubinger, percussion
Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”)
(800) 444-1324

Jan. 23 (8 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Baltimore Symphony Pops
Jack Everly conducting
Debbie Gravitte, vocalist
“Marvin Hamlisch –One Singular Sensation”
Hamlisch: excerpts from “A Chorus Line,” “The Sting,” “The Way We Were,” other works
(877) 276-1444 (Baltimore Symphony box office)

Jan. 24 (8 p.m.)
Ferguson Arts Center, Christopher Newport University, Newport News
Jan. 25 (8 p.m.)
Chrysler Hall, 215 St. Paul’s Boulevard, Norfolk
Jan. 26 (2:30 p.m.)
Sandler Arts Center, 201 S. Market St., Virginia Beach
Virginia Symphony
JoAnn Falletta conducting
Saint-Saëns: “Carnival of the Animals”
Poulenc: Concerto for two pianos
Christina & Michelle Naughton, piano duo
Debussy: “La Mer”
Ravel: “Bolero”
(757) 892-6366

Jan. 24 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra
Christoph Eschenbach conducting
“Beyond the Score: Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 – Whose World?”
multimedia presentation followed by performance
(800) 444-1324

Jan. 25 (11 a.m.)
Carpenter Theatre, Richmond CenterStage, Sixth and Grace streets
Richmond Symphony LolliPops
Erin R. Freeman conducting
“An American in Paris”
(800) 514-3849 (ETIX)

Jan. 25 (7 p.m.)
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD
Denis Matsuev, piano
Haydn: Sonata in E flat major
Schumann: “Carnaval”
Rachmaninoff: preludes in G minor, G sharp minor
Tchaikovsky: Dumka in C minor, “Méditation”
Rachmaninoff: Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor
(301) 581-5100

Jan. 26 (6:30 p.m.)
West Building, West Garden Court, National Gallery of Art, Sixth Street at Constitution Avenue NW, Washington
Dalí String Quartet
works TBA by Efrain Amaya, others
(202) 737-4215

Jan. 26 (7:30 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Anna Lee, violin
Robert Koenig, piano
Brahms: Scherzo in C minor from “F.A.E.” Sonata
Debussy: Violin Sonata in G minor
Beethoven: Sonata in C minor, Op. 30, No. 2
Ives: Violin Sonata No. 2
Massenet: “Méditation” from “Thaïs”
Hubay: “Fantasie brilliante on Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ ”
(202) 985-9727 (Washington Performing Arts Society)

Jan. 27 (7:30 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Matthias Goerne, baritone
Christoph Eschenbach, piano
Schubert: “Die schöne Müllerin”
(800) 444-1324

Jan. 28 (7:30 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Aleksey Semenenko, violin
Inna Firsova, piano
Beethoven: Sonata in A minor, Op. 23
Chausson: “Poème”
Ysaÿe: Sonata in D minor, Op. 27, No. 3 (“Ballade”), for solo violin
Debussy: Violin Sonata in G minor
Tchaikovsky: Valse-Scherzo, Op. 34
Paganini: “I Palpiti,” Op. 13
(800) 444-1324

Jan. 30 (7 p.m.)
Jan. 31 (8 p.m.)
Feb. 1 (8 p.m.)
Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Washington
National Symphony Orchestra
Christoph Eschenbach conducting
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor
Joshua Bell, violin
Hindemith: “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
Matthias Goerne, baritone
Choral Arts Society of Washington
(800) 444-1324

Jan. 31 (8 p.m.)
Old Cabell Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Rivanna String Quartet
Mendelssohn: Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13
Puccini: “Crisantemi”
Bartók: Quartet No. 1 in A minor
(434) 924-3376

Jan. 31 (6:30 p.m.)
Trinkle Main Stage, Mill Mountain, Theatre, Center in the Square, 1 Market St. SE, Roanoke
Roanoke Symphony Classical Orchestra
David Stewart Wiley conducting
Mozart: “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”
Britten: “Simple” Symphony
Mozart: Clarinet Concerto
Carmen Eby, clarinet
(540) 343-9127

Jan. 31 (7:30 p.m.)
Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center, Washington
Vocal Arts DC:
Luca Pisaroni, bass-baritone
Wolfram Rieger, piano
program TBA
(800) 444-1324